Wymondham College head regrets school’s academy status and criticises Department for Education for ‘micromanaging’ schools

Wymondham College Principal Melvyn Roffe. Wymondham College Principal Melvyn Roffe.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
7:23 AM

The head of a south Norfolk state school has said he regrets the school’s move to become an academy.

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Wymondham College principal Melvyn Roffe blasted the Department for Education for “micromanaging” schools – claiming that the change to an academy came after he believed the school would gain more freedom.

He said that the reality was “more government control”.

The DfE disputed Mr Roffe’s claims.

The head teacher said that the school, off Golf Links Road, became an academy for more autonomy.

He said: “What happened was the reverse. We have had more control from central government rather than local government.”

“I don’t believe he (Michael Gove) intended academy status to reduce autonomy. I wish he had the courage to say there are schools doing a good job and they should be allowed to do a good job.”

Mr Roffe, who is set to leave the school after seven years in charge to take the top job at a private college in Edinburgh, said that the DfE was always “looking over your shoulder, and driven by pettiness”.

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “These claims are wrong. Our academies’ programme takes power away from politicians and bureaucrats and gives it to heads and teachers who know their pupils best.

“Academies don’t belong to a remote bureaucracy. Instead they have the freedom to run their school as they think best — by setting pay and conditions for staff, changing the length of the school day and term, shaping their own curriculum and controlling their own budgets.”

What do you think of Mr Roffe’s claims? Contact Lauren Cope on Lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

19 comments

  • Anything that removes the reliance on the county council is a step in the right direction. Running an education establishment needs to brought up to the 21st century. The self interest (and militant attitude) of the teaching staff (highly unionised to avoid good teachers being rewarded appropriately) and local authority staff is leading to sub optimal performance for our children. Amazingly the commercial schools (called fee paying schools) are going from strength to strength. I know change hurts teachers and civil servants but embrace it - we all have.

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    Parsnip

    Friday, June 6, 2014

  • Some posters on here seem to think that greed (trough feeders) didn't exist pre-academy programme. What an opportunity for all the non-academy (greed free) schools to pay all their teachers top wages irrespective of their performance, and show those greedy performance focused academies how to run a modern school.

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    Rhombus

    Friday, June 6, 2014

  • Gove's academies policy is discredited further by Mr Roffe's honesty. Of course Gove's friend Dame Rachel will sail in on behalf of her seven schools (7 LOL!) to support Gove. Bur really, schools converting to academy status are turkeys voting for Christmas. Some future govt will have the unenviable task of sorting out academies and all their hangers-on with their noses in the trough.

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    Johnboy

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

  • Interesting comments from a head whose school has not had an OFSTED academic inspection since 2007 (and then only over a single day). The College was presumably happy to take the DFE 'bribe' - the extra money that came with becoming an academy and which no longer goes to the LEA. But then he's now off to the private sector so he can comfortably criticise. Who are Academies accountable to? Ultimately the DFE, which has cut its own staff by 50%. If the Tories win the next election prepare for profit making schools. Academies are private companies. There are good and bad academies, just as there are good and bad LEA controlled schools.

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    pablo

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

  • Mr Roffe has been an effective Head of a very good school and, as such, should be listened to by Michael Gove rather than dismissed in high-handed fashion by a Government department of ideologues that is still flogging us the Academies programme despite its many flaws. However, Mr Roffe is not off the hook entirely. He pushed for academy status at the college despite a 'consultation' process during which many parents expressed concern that the whole process was being rushed. He seems to have forgotten his own eagerness to sign up. It is, in addition, less than brave of him to save a public expression of disquiet until he knew he had another job - in the private sector. I'm sure that his successor and all those he leaves behind will be very grateful for this parting shot!

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    Ms Givings

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

  • Apparently the 3 year teacher training leading to QTS was almost impossible to fail.....that is why it is much better to have a 'real time' competence assessment of teachers, which I assume is the academy way. The failed system of relying on an over-rated qualified status and inflated references from schools happy to pass a poor teacher onto other schools are hopefully a thing of the past.

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    Rhombus

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

  • OHT, I am certainly no apologist for poor teachers and I don't think Mr Roffe is either, as is demonstrated by his proven track record. I work in business but am also a primary school school governor and if my employer was subject to the constant barrage of changing policies and edicts from on high which schools are, it would be very difficult to operate effectively and maintain staff morale. There are some aspects of education which are simply not measurable by testing. I believe that a good education is one where children are helped to develop into functioning, contributing members of society who are able to support themselves economically when they leave education. I have no issue with an education agenda which aims to raise and maintain quality. It is the micro management from above and the government's unwillingness to acknowledge that schools other than academies and free schools can be effective and successful which is an issue. Success cannot be measured solely on a narrow set of test results, which only show one part of the picture. Yet this is the primary method of judging schools and it does create a climate of fear. Test result time is a nerve racking time for schools; of course you want every child to do as well as they can and it can only take for 1 or 2 children to have an off day or struggle to cope with the test environment as a whole to impact on the overall results. Does that suddenly make a school inadequate with poor quality of teaching? I don't think so. I see amazing things happening in school which simply cannot be demonstrated through a test result. I also see schools which have excellent results but to the detriment of other aspects of learning and development.

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    N

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

  • The Academy programme has always been about removing local power and accountability and replacing it with central control aka Soviet system. Some schs have done well but far too many have failed and Mr Gove is doing all he can to cover it up, hence the wheeling in of R DeSouza to sell his project. Mr Roffe is spot on and has led a brilliant sch.....how terrifying is it that he only feels able to speak out once he is leaving. This speaks volumes for the fear that the DfE has to exert to get its policies through and we all know that fear driven dictatorships, whether from the right or left, ultimately fall apart.

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    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

  • What about Thetford Academy Mr Roffe

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    Jacob Burns

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • Andy T But why? More importantly, why now?

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    BG

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • Nobody made them sign up for Academy status..... should have read the small print because the devil is in the detail. At least he has the courage to admit he was wrong though, and I wish him well in his future role.

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    Andy T

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • Rhombus I am with you. For far too long teaching was a closed shop with many bad teachers just passed onto another school with glowing references. Which is why many teachers don`t like the current set up where teaching is no longer a job for life. The winners are our children and one only has to look at the Oriel School, Gorleston to see what can be achieved. From once the bottom school in the area to the top one.

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    BG

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • ....."says a great deal about the culture of fear which is being perpetuated by the current system"...if you mean teachers now do not have a job for life unless they are actually good a teaching, then that is a huge step forward in bringing about better teaching standards.

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    Rhombus

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • N. "I'm not going to criticise the timing of these comments. The fact that Mr Roffe is making them having secured a position elsewhere and out of reach of any DfE backlash, says a great deal about the culture of fear which is being perpetuated by the current system" Well that's a very kind but naive way of looking at it.

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    One Horse Town

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • I'm not going to criticise the timing of these comments. The fact that Mr Roffe is making them having secured a position elsewhere and out of reach of any DfE backlash, says a great deal about the culture of fear which is being perpetuated by the current system. It appears to be increasingly the case that anyone who voices any sort of opposition or concern with the academy and free school system are dismissed out of hand. I saw this item on last night's Look East when the BBC brought RDS into the studio to counter Mr Roffe's comments. The interview would have been hilarious had it not been so infuriating; particularly when she noted her disagreement with Mr Roffe and said that she found the DfE very straightforward to deal with. Of course it's going to be straightforward when you are the government's biggest cheerleader for their academies policy, with a direct line to Mr Gove!

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    N

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • Melvyn Roffe has got it right, the continuous interference by multiple agencies and new guidelines, directives etc. is not making for quiet continuation and routine the chilkdren need to cope with todays increased pace of learning. It should be up to heads, teachers and parents to find the most adequate and rounded education within the wider curriculum. Schools are not training places for large multinationationals to influence with their aims and objectives. Children shopuld not just be blinded with commerce and business, but should also understand that life on earth should have a meaningfull sustainable base for other generations to follow.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • How brave these people are to voice their political opinions once they are oft to pastures new. He was quite happy to go along with the idea of an Academy, whilst head of the school, but as soon as he was off, stuck the knife in. His comments, which made the nationals, makes the school now look like second best. A nice parting shot, Mr Roffe. But not for the students, their parents and teachers.

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    BG

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • Who do you believe; a spokesperson from the Dfe who probably has no first hand experience of running a school or a well respected Principal who most certainly has. Melvyn gets my vote! The Academy system is one of the travesties of the ConservativeLiberal Government that has faced little opposition; campaigners for Cavell 1st a notable exception. The system under the Labour Government may not have been perfect but it did empower schools whilst keeping them democratically accountable through local authorities who were also able to provide a light touch to ensure the very highest standards could be reached.

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    Jonny

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

  • As much as I agree with his comments it is regretful that he didn't have sufficient integrity to voice his thoughts 'before' he got a new position within the safety of the independent sector.

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    One Horse Town

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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